WASHINGTON — Lithuania’s plan to buy the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle from the U.S. has been cleared by the State Department, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notification.

The department notified Congress on Aug. 27 that it approved a possible foreign military sale to Lithuania of 500 JLTVs — the U.S. Army’s Humvee replacement — for an estimated cost of $170.8 million.

The Lithuanian Ministry of Defence first contacted the U.S. Defense Department regarding a potential acquisition of about 200 Oshkosh Defense-made JLTVs in late 2017.

The purchase, if approved by Congress, would include the vehicles, M1278A1 heavy gun carriers, and kits including ones for ballistic armor, explosive protection, shot detection and GPS.

Lithuania would also get the M153 Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, M2 .50-caliber machine guns and Forward-Looking Infrared systems.

The country invested a great deal in recent years in the modernization of defensive capabilities, and it plans to increase investments in the coming years as Russia builds up its military power in Kaliningrad and its Western Military District while gaining influence with Lithuania’s neighbor, Belarus.

The JLTV procurement was recently made possible as the U.S. Army approved the full-rate production of the vehicle in June after a six-month delay. With the approval, it is expected to see exports ramp up.

Slovenia has already placed an order for a small number of JLTVs, and it’s likely the United Kingdom will be a future customer. The State Department cleared the U.K.’s possible purchase two years ago for 2,747 vehicles worth up to $1 billion.

Lithuania’s Ministry of Defence told Defense News in May it wants to sign a contract with the U.S. for roughly 200 JLTVS by the end of the year. The country intends to consider a follow-on purchase of additional JLTVS — possibly up to 300 more — after the first lot is under contract.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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